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What is a grant? Definition and meaning

A grant is a quantity of money given by a government, organization, person or family for a specific purpose. Unlike a loan, you do not have to pay back the grant money – in some cases, study grants have to be paid back if the person abandons the course. A grant may come in the form of money for a student to study, for a team to carry out research, money to improve the insulation in your house, expand a community project, or funds to set up a business.

As a verb, to grant may mean to allow or give somebody something, as in ‘they granted John a visa,’ or ‘Margaret was granted asylum’; to accept that something is true, usually followed by an opposite opinion, as in ‘I grant you that raising a child is no easy task, but that is no reason to hit him.”

To take something for granted means to believe that something is true without even thinking about it or cherishing it – to take it as a given – as in ‘Before the war broke out I took so many things for granted, it was not until I had to start queuing for basic foods that I realized how important they were.”

What is a grant typesThere are literally hundreds of different types of grants, which may come from central government, local authorities, companies, charities, and individuals.

Government grants for individuals

Many people look to their government to find out how to apply for a grant, often in response to an advert. According to the United States Government, federal grants are financial assistance awards to an organization and/or individual.



Grants are used to carry out a government authorized purpose, they do not form part of a state assistance or personal benefits program.

Government grants are generally awarded to non-profit organizations, universities, researchers, counties, states, cities and law enforcement.

EU GrantsThe European Commission says it awards grants in support of projects or organizations which further the interests of the European Union, or contribute to the implementation of an EU policy or program.

People seeking a government grant or loan in the United States may find the following resources useful:

GovLoans.gov – a useful website for people seeking a loan from the government. You will be directed to information on several types of loans including education, housing, agriculture, business, disaster relief, and veterans.

Grant Writing: information provided by Kent State University in Ohio aimed at helping people know what to do before they start their grant proposal.

Grants.gov – aimed at organizations and states seeking grants.

CFDA (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) – this website contains a full listing of all US Federal programs to State and local government, including the District of Columbia.



According to the UK Government, a grant is a quantity of money given to a business or individual for a specific purpose or project.

Citizens and local businesses in the UK can apply for a grant from charities, local councils, the European Union or the national government.

Even though you will not need to pay back a grant, there is a great deal of competition and they are nearly always awarded for a specific project or purposed.

US Federal GrantsGrants.gov advises people and organisations to first find out whether they are eligible for a grant.

Pros and cons of grants

Applying for and receiving a grant has three main advantages:

1. You will not have to pay back the grant money or pay interest on it. In some cases, students who do not attend the minimum number of lessons or abandon a course might have to pay the money back.

2. You will not lose any control over your company or organization.

3. In most cases your credit history will not affect your chances of being considered and/or receiving the funds.

The disadvantages to receiving a grant include:

1. You need to find a grant that suits your specific needs – this might not be easy.

2. Many people, companies and organisations apply for grants – there is a lot of competition.

3. Grants do not usually cover the whole cost of a project – you will need to use your own money to fund some of it.

4. Grants are not generally awarded for projects that have already begun, but just for proposed ones.

5. Applying for a grant can be time-consuming.

According to the Financial Times ft.com/lexicon, a grant is:

“A sum of money given to a person or organization for a particular purpose, often by a government.”

People named GrantSome famous people in history and alive today are named Grant.

Person’s name – Grant

Grant can also be a person’s first name or surname.  It comes from England and Scotland and has several possible origins.

Some specialists say the it was an Anglo-Norman nickname – graund, graunt, meaning ‘tall’ or ‘large’. This term was derived from the Old French grand and grant, which originated from the Latin grandis.

Most likely, the name Grant used to be given to very large individuals.

Famous quotes using the word ‘grant’

The Serenity Prayer, has this phrase – written by Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr – which is probably the most famous sentence that uses the word ‘grant’:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Michelangelo once said:

“Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.”

Sir David Attenborough, when talking about the emergence of television, once said:

“Television of course actually started in Britain in 1936, and it was a monopoly, and there was only one broadcaster and it operated on a license which is not the same as a government grant.”

Video – What is a grant?

This Seminole State Financial Aid video explains what a grant is. It also warns that if you get a student grant and do not attend the required minimum number of classes, or drop out of the course, you might have to return the money.